Professor Peter Jones B.A, D.Phil

 

Professor of French History

Department of History

Professor Peter Jones

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

About

I studied at the University of Leeds for my first degree (1967-70) and then moved to the University of Oxford (Balliol College) in order to prepare a doctorate under the supervision of Professor Richard Cobb (1970-73). Whilst undertaking research in France I was a boursier of the French government attached to the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail (1971-72).

Biography

I am currently a professor of history at the University of Birmingham and have held a personal chair in French History since 1995. Most of my career has been spent at Birmingham, albeit with secondments (visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Marseille in 1999 and a similar position, also at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, in 2011)

Teaching

Undergraduate
First year

  • Practising History: The Myth of the Taking of the Bastille.
  • The Making of the Modern World, 1500-1815

Second year

  • Option: Secret Societies and the Revolutionary Movement, 1776-1871
  • Group Research:‘The Gunpowder of ideas’: Enlightenment and Revolution in Birmingham 1780-1800

Third year

  • Special Subject: The French Revolution
  • Reviewing History: ‘Friends of Liberty’ and ‘Friends of Order’
  • Gender and the French Revolution

Postgraduate (M.Phil and PhD):

  • Science and Enlightenment in the West Midlands
  • Travellers and Travel Writing in the Eighteenth Century
  • Agrarian history of France

Postgraduate supervision

Listed below are the fields in which I am able to offer supervision of research postgraduates:

  • The French Revolution
  • Peasant studies and agrarian history (France), 18th and 19th centuries
  • The culture of science in England, 1750-1820
  • Birmingham and the West Midlands in the eighteenth century
  • Knowledge transfer in the period of the Enlightenment and the Revolution (1760-1820)

Research

Between 2003 and 2007 I took ‘leave’ from French rural history in order to work on a project in the field of the cultural history of science and technology. This project has now been written up and delivered in the form of a book entitled Industrial Enlightenment: Science, Technology and Culture in Birmingham and the West Midlands. It was published by Manchester University Press in 2009. The book was awarded the Wadsworth Prize in 2010 for an outstanding contribution to the study of British business history.

In 2009 I was also involved in the preparations to mark the bicentenary of the death of Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) whose career as the entrepreneur and savant who founded the Soho Manufactory epitomised the coming together of Industry and Enlightenment in the West Midlands. Together with colleagues in the Department of History, the Department of the History of Art, Birmingham City University and the Birmingham Assay Office, I organised the bicentenary conference on Matthew Boulton. It took place on the campus of the University of Birmingham in July 2009 and a selection of the papers delivered on that occasion is being prepared for publication by Ashgate.

Now that the science and technology project is complete, I divide my time between research into the French Revolution and research into knowledge transfer in eighteenth-century Europe. The current focus of my investigations is the circulation of industrial and agricultural ‘know how’ between Britain, France, Germany and Scandinavia.

Past research

In 1976 I completed a doctorate on ‘The Revolutionary Committees of the Department of the Aveyron’, in other words a case-study of the French Revolutionary Terror. This study led me in the direction of more wide-ranging  research into the ways in which traditional rural societies become politicised. A distillation of that research can be found in my monograph Politics and Rural Society: the Southern Massif Central, c. 1750-1880 published by Cambridge University Press in 1985. The political engagement of country dwellers has been the abiding theme of my research activity over many years. It has resulted in a series of articles and books, the best known of which are two text books The Peasantry in the French Revolution (Cambridge, 1988) and The French Revolution, 1787-1804 (Longman Seminar Studies, 2003, revised and expanded edition 2009).

More recently, concern about the interpretive capacity of synthetic history-writing has prompted me to explore the methodology of comparative micro-history as a way of capturing the rich texture of country dwellers’ lives. This attempt to view the ordinary inhabitants of France from a fresh perspective resulted in a book entitled Liberty and Locality in Revolutionary France, 1760-1820: Six Villages Compared which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2003.

Other activities

Membership

I am member of the editorial boards of the journals French History and Annales du Midi, and I sit on the management committees of The Archives of Soho and Revolutionaryplayers.  I am also a jury member for the Prix Baluze (European local history), and an 'expert étranger' attached to the Agence de l' and , and I sit on the management committees of and  I am also a jury member for the Prix Baluze (European local history), and an 'expert étranger' attached to the Agence de l'évaluation de la recherche st de l'enseignement (AERES), Paris.

Publications

  • ‘Knowledge and Technology Transfer during the Industrial Enlightenment: Swiss Visitors to the Soho Manufactory, Birmingham, c. 1765-1820’, Traverses: Zeitschrift für Geschichte / Revue d’histoire 3(2010), 37-53
  • The French Revolution, 1787-1804 (London, Longman, 2003, revised and expanded edn 2009)
  • Industrial Enlightenment: Science, Technology and Culture in Birmingham and the West Midlands, 1760-1820 (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2009)
  • ‘“Commerce des Lumières”: the International Trade in Technology, 1763-1815’, Quaderns d’història de l’enginyeria, 10(2009), 67-82.
  • ‘Industrial Enlightenment in Practice: Visitors to the Soho Manufactory, 1765-1820’, Midland History, 33(2008), 68-96 33(2008), 68-96
  •  ‘The Life and Times of Dr Joseph Priestley’, Revolutionaryplayers. org.uk/content/files/121/115/359.rtf
  • ‘Les Inventeurs et l’activité inventive dans les archives de Soho’, M.-S. Corcy and L. Hilaire-Pérez (eds), Les Archives de l’invention: écrits, objets et images de l’activité inventive (CNRS / Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail, 2006), pp. 203-210 (CNRS / Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail, 2006), pp. 203-210
  • ‘ “Fraternising with the Enemy”: Problems of Identity during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars’, in J. Kalman, I. Coller and H. Davies (eds), French History and Civilisation. Papers from the George Rudé Seminar (Melbourne, 2005), 38-44 (Melbourne, 2005), 38-44
  • ‘ “England Expects…”; Trading in Liberty in the Age of Trafalgar’, in C. Crook, W. Doyle and A. Forrest (eds), Enlightenment and Revolution (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004), pp.187-203 (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004), pp.187-203
  • Liberty and Locality in Revolutionary France, 1760-1820: Six Villages Compared, 1760-1820 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003)
  •  ‘Living the Enlightenment and the French Revolution: James Watt, Matthew Boulton and their Sons’, Historical Journal, 42 (1999), 157-182, 42 (1999), 157-182
  • The French Revolution in Social and Political Perspective (London, E. Arnold, 1996)
  • Reform and Revolution in France: the Politics of Transition (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995

Expertise

The French Revolution; rural France; science and technology in the 18th century; the history of Birmingham and the West Midlands in the 18th century

Back to top